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Integrated Child Development Services
In order to provide preschool education, food and healthcare to children below 6 years and to their mothers in India, the Government launched the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) as a welfare programme. The implementation of this programme is done through Anganwadi centres in rural villages with frontline workers as staff. Apart from providing better nutrition, the programme also aims at achieving gender equality in India by providing equal opportunities to girls also.
As per a published report of 2005, the implementation problems and improper funding to the poorer states of India has led to failure of the programme and ineffective in many cases.
The Central Government has shelled out an amount aggregating to Rs 159 billion (roughly USD 2.9 billion) in financial year 2012-13 for implementation of the porgramme.
India has a history of underprivileged children right from childhood. As per survey reports, the status of Indian problems in children is worse as compared to any other developing country. The issues identified include: 44 infant mortality rate, 93 mortality rate for children below 5 years, 93% of new born are underweight apart from other problems like educational deficiency, malnutrition and immunization.
Though established in 1975, this programme took substantial time to emerge as one of the largest schemes for family and integrated community welfare. With the effective implementation of the programme, the Indian Government is trying to provide universal reach to the programme.
The targeted objectives of this programme are:
- To enhance the nutritional levels and health of children below the age of 6 years in India.
- Creating platform for physical, social and moral improvement in lives of Indian children.
- To arrest the cases of malnutrition, mortality and school dropout in India.
- To act as nodal point for formulation of policy amongst the various government departments that take part in other government schemes aimed at child development in India.
- To share the nutritional and health related information to the mothers of smaller children and thereby improve the child rearing skills in India
- To aim for providing better nutritional foods to pregnant women and also to mothers of younger kids in India.
Scope of Services
In order to achieve the endeavours, the following are supported through this programme:
- Nutrition supplements
- Checking health on constant basis
- Providing services through referrals
- Informal education to the pre-schools
- Information related to health and nutrition
To enhance nutrition in Indian children, the scheme provides of supplements to boys under age of 6 years with 300 kilo calories of food with 8-10 gms of protein while the girl child is supplemented with 25 gms of protein in addition to 500 kilo calories of food every day.
The Ministry of Health and Family welfare administers the implementation of the programme through public health infrastructure for immunisation, referral services and health check-ups. Since its launch in 1975, the ICDS has been receiving essentials from UNICEF also. The funds for the programme is pooled from World Bank which also provides technical support. This apart, the State Government contributes about 1 cent per day per child and the central Government contributes the balance. On an average, the programme aims at disbursing $10-$22 per child per annum.
The WHO after extensive study of six developing nations since 1997, has come out with a comprehensive New WHO Child Growth Standard to measure the physical growth, development of children and nutritional status of children below 5 years of age. The same has been adopted by the Government of India for implementation of the ICDS and NRHM.
At the end of year 2010 the programme has touched upon lives of more than 80.6 lakh lactating and expectant mothers and children numbering to 3.93 crore below the age of 6 years. The programme operates through 1,241,749 Anganwadi centres and there are about 6,719 running projects. Some of the visible benefits of the programme as reported per documents are
- Irrespective of gender, there has been substantive development in the mental and social aspects amongst children in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
- As per study reports of National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development, 1992 there has been significant development in infant mortality rates and improved birth weights amongst Indian children with administration of nutrition and immunization.
Despite the reports as stated above, the World Health Organisation pointed out the programme is falling short in terms of girl child improvements, wealthier children being participative than the poorer ones, low infusion of funds especially for malnutrition states in India.